Tue, May 20, 2003 - Page 3 News List

New health chief seeks cooperation from lawmakers

CNA , TAIPEI

Newly appointed Department of Health Director-General Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday appealed for cooperation from the Legislative Yuan in the battle against SARS.

Chen sought understanding and collaboration from the lawmakers in his first appearance at the legislature since he assumed the top health post on Saturday.

Chen focused his speech on explaining the details of the Executive Yuan's NT$50 billion budget proposal for SARS prevention and costs incurred to local business, travel and tourism sectors badly hit by the virus.

Chen said as SARS is a new disease, unprecedented support from the scientific sector is needed to contain the epidemic.

Policies to prevent the spread of the disease and measures to treat patients need to be updated constantly, necessitating a larger and more flexible budget, he said.

The 52-year-old Chen, who is one of the country's top epidemiologists, told the legislators that the key to fighting SARS is to effectively contain it within hospitals because the virus is at its most virulent when patients have full-blown symptoms.

Noting that five medical personnel -- two doctors and three nurses -- are among the more than 40 people who have died as a result of SARS, Chen vowed to ensure health care workers on the front line of the battle against the epidemic are provided with the best possible protective gear.

Chen took over at the health department from Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲), who resigned last Friday to "take responsibility" for the outbreak among health personnel.

He was scheduled to be officially sworn in by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at a ceremony at the Presidential Office yesterday.

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